Kasabian are the best band in the UK. Well, that’s if you believe the lads themselves, anyway. Although such bold statements might get you a headline or two in NME, when it comes to a live show no amount of bravado can make up for a lack of talent. With this in mind, I rocked up to the Wolverhampton Civic for the Leicester lads’ latest attempt to stake their claims of greatness.
After a slight mix up with the guestlist I eventually got into the venue having missed support act Black Horses. From the muffled sounds just about audible through the doors they seemed to offer something more than your average identikit indie band. But I wasn’t in the room, so let’s move on swiftly.
Striking up the driving opening riff of Underdog from the ludicrously-titled West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum album, Kasabian kicked straight into their groove under their pretty impressive lighting rig. Obviously confident enough of the newer material, the band followed up with two more newer tracks, the Serge Pizzorno-led Where Did All the Love Go and the synthy instrumental Swarfiga. From the crowd’s reception, their confidence was justified as the terrace chant sing-a-longs were in action from the off.
After the band regrouped from the early instrumental break, they rewarded the mob with another chance to chant along to the glam rock-infused Shoot the Runner, a song which can’t comprise more than a few words, and the lyrically-simple Cutt Off from the band’s eponymous debut album. It’s about a scientist called John who takes LSD, in case you were wondering, so it’s not exactly poetry.
This aside, Kasabian were winning over a fairly partizan crowd easily, lead singer and swaggerer Tom Meighan strutting about and playing cheerleader. The deal was sealed with favourites Processed Beats and the epic pounding call to arms of Empire. Even the people in the balcony seating were up and jumping, and I don’t blame them.
It was at this point I noticed how much Kasabian rely on pre-recorded backing tracks in their live shows. The addition of sweeping strings and blasts of brass give them a big sound capable of filling venues much bigger than the Civic, as prove on their recent tour with their spiritual mentors Oasis.
Flying through more material from the supposedly madness-themed West Rider… album, the band showed that difficult second, third, or even fourth albums might not prove a problem for them. By growing their sound and diversifying into different themes, Kasabian are avoiding the repetitive tag reserved for the legion of other mop-topped Gallagher wannabes. The tempo-switching Fire and surf-rocker Fast Fuse proved particularly effective in getting the room up.
Ending the set, which seemed a tad short, with Club Foot was guaranteed to ensure and encore, not that there is any doubt of one anymore. The distorted bassline and shouty delivery whipped up a predictable frenzy under a shower of strobe lighting.
After letting my boggled eyes recover from the intense flashing, the band returned to the stage and broke out the bass-driven Vlad the Impaler, bringing the energy right back into the room. Next up was Stuntman, which sounds like Accelerator-era Primal Scream, before finishing on a last chance to chant along to L.S.F (Lost Souls Forever), which Serge opened with a mini cover of The Source’s You Got The Love.
As Kasabian left the stage, the chanting remained, ringing out from the mass of blokes intent on bringing the lads back out again. This football terrace, ‘blokey’ vibe might have gained Kasabian a lot of followers, but to be taken as seriously as they wish to be, they really have to take a chance on some deeper material. Best band in the UK? I don’t think so. Best live band in the UK? Well, they’re up there with a shout at least.
Words: Ian Ravenscroft
Photos: Steve Gerrard
2. Where did all the love go?
4.Shoot the Runner
5. Cutt Off
6. Processed Beats
8. Thick as Thieves
9. Take Aim
11. Fast Fuse
12. The Doberman
13. Club Foot
14. Vlad the Impaler
16. You Got The Love/L.S.F